Fench Lentil Soup

French Lentil Soup
Let me preface this by saying that I have never ordered lentil soup at a restaurant nor have I really had a good version from a can.  Annabel Karmel’s First Foods introduced me to lentils when I was madly making mini lentil cakes for my son.  They are absolutely delicious and I’m sure everyone can’t wait until Baby W gets old enough for them to go back into the rotation.  Logic follows that if lentils are delicious in cakes, they would be delicious in a soup. 
After some cookbook and internet research, I discovered that of the 3 kinds of bulk lentils that I had purchased, only one was soup-worthy.  The others would disintegrate.  The winning lentil was the French green. 
After a rinse, a pick-over, and a cross-reference between Epicurious.com and Cooks Illustrated, I made every effort to follow the spirit of the traditional recipes with a few changes.  The key ingredients that I would not have added off the cuff were diced tomatoes and balsamic vinegar.   These sound like a strange addition, but disappeared completely in the final product and only imparted a slight acidity.           
The other odd-ball thing in the recipes was to puree a portion of it.  If other types of lentils disintegrate, why not use them to make it heartier instead of dirtying another utensil.  I went ahead with it because I was trying out a smoked sausage that I hadn’t tasted before.  The idea being that I could cook the sausage in the smaller portion of the soup and if it was awful, not ruin the entire batch.  2 dirty pots and a dirty emersion blender later, sausage tasted fine and we added the heartiness.  I doubt I’ll do it in the future because it ends up with a chili-like heaviness and I wanted something more delicate.  The smokiness could have had that effect as well.
French Lentil Soup
1-2
slices bacon (only if you’re not using sausage)
1
large onion , chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
2
medium carrots , peeled and chopped medium (about 1 cup)
3
medium cloves garlic , pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes , drained
1
bay leaf
1
teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1
cup lentils (7 ounces), rinsed and picked over
1
teaspoon table salt
ground black pepper
1/2
cup dry white wine
4
cups low-sodium chicken broth (I used homemade stock but would save the stock for something that’s not going to compete with bacon next time)
1
cups water
1
1
cup diced smoked sausage
teaspoons balsamic vinegar
3
tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
INSTRUCTIONS [adapted from Cooks Illustrated]
1.     1.  Fry bacon in large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Add onion and carrots; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, bay leaf, and thyme; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in lentils, salt, and pepper to taste; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until vegetables are softened and lentils have darkened, 8 to 10 minutes.
2.     2.  Uncover, increase heat to high, add wine, and bring to simmer. Add chicken broth and water; bring to boil, cover partially, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until lentils are tender but still hold their shape, 30 to 35 minutes; discard bay leaf.
3.    3.   Add sausage if using and simmer 10-15 minutes more to heat through.
4.     4.  Puree 3 cups soup with emersion blender until smooth, then return to pot; stir in vinegar and heat soup over medium-low until hot, about 5 minutes. Add Stir in 2 tablespoons parsley and serve, garnishing each bowl with some of remaining parsley.

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One thought on “Fench Lentil Soup

  1. I'm about to try Gourmet's Lentil Soup with Sausage and Escarole (Thursday night)… I bought the only lentils that HEB had… hope they hold up!This recipe sounds delicious too!

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